Provoking Thoughts


Prayer List

Romans 7 – What is Sin and What Does God Do About It?

Bro. Mike Miller

Meditation Archives

Rebellion against God’s law is sin, but to make that the definition of sin really doesn’t tell the whole story. Most often the sinner does not start out by consciously rebelling in his heart against God. That is, his focus is on his desire and plotting to fulfill it. He is not looking God in the face and defiantly doing things contrary to God to spite Him. On the contrary, he usually feels very condemned in his heart and realizes that he is making a mistake, but he is like a fly in a spider’s web and can’t seem to escape. Every way he turns he finds himself entangled in his temptation and is unable to overcome it. Even though he knows God’s law in regard to the sin he is contemplating, he may go ahead with his plans and satisfy his desire in spite of God’s law. This is the point that it becomes sin. Certainly, this is despising God and his law, but his sin didn’t start there.

Sin originates in our lusts. (James 1) It is from there that all sin springs forth. Many believe it is a physical problem and if we didn’t have these bodies of flesh we wouldn’t have a sin problem. However, the Bible doesn’t teach that at all. Jesus told us plainly that the heart is the problem. (Matt 15:18-20) Men are sinners because they have allowed their lusts to run their lives instead of and in spite of God’s law. Men are not sinners because of some faulty chromosome or genetic defect, but because of their selfish will. Men are sinners because they choose to be sinners. They choose to sin because they love themselves and not God. In other words, sin is basically the result of selfishness.

Now if all God did for us by sending his Son was to give us a home in heaven when we die, but leaves us in the same selfish condition as before then Romans 7 surely does describe the normal Christian experience. However, if the Atonement does something to break the power of sin here and now then those who have dropped anchor in Romans 7 as their Christian experience have been deceived about their own soul.

We only have to read the next chapter of Romans to see that the Bible DOES teach that God did more for us than provide a home in heaven for us when we die. The fleshly, or carnal man is at enmity with God. His soul has no control over the appetites of the body and the lusts of the flesh. Reason is insufficient to bring his passions under control. He may know that what he is doing is evil, but he cannot seem to stop himself. His selfish lust calls and he must obey. He minds the things of the flesh. (Rom. 8:5) He is a servant of sin. (Rom. 6:17;20) His life is about making provision for the flesh. (Rom. 13:14) This is the person described in Romans 7.

The spiritual man is exactly the opposite in every point. Instead of enmity with God he is at peace with God and lives in a state of friendship and fellowship with God. The Spirit of God dwells in him and he minds the things of God. He is able, by the grace of God, to control his appetites and fleshly lusts. He mortifies the deeds of the flesh and minds the things of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:5) Instead of being a servant of sin he is now a servant of righteousness. (Rom. 6:18;22) His selfishness is conquered and his highest interest is now to please and glorify God.

All of Romans 6 is about what we were compared to what we are now. “Ye were the servants of sin, BUT now…” (Rom. 6:17-22) “Being now made free from sin” is mentioned in verses 17 and 22. If Romans 7 is the normal Christian experience then what do these verses mean?

Which one of these statements do we believe?

  • “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” (Rom. 6:14)

  • "I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7:14)

If both describe the Christian experience we have a contradiction in the Word of God.

All of Romans 8 is about the victory a regenerated person has over sin.

  • There is no condemnation (v. 1)

  • We are free from the law of sin and death (v. 2)

  • What the law couldn’t do for us Jesus can (v. 3)

  • The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us (v. 4)

  • We are NOT IN THE FLESH (carnally-minded) IF the Spirit of Christ dwells in us (v. 9)

  • If Christ is in us the body is dead (v. 10)

  • Our mortal bodies are quickened (v. 11)

  • We are MORE than conquerors (v. 37)

BUT, “I am carnal, sold under sin!” If you can identify more with Romans 7 than you can with Romans 8 you should really consider searching your heart. You do not have what the Bible clearly describes as salvation. Instead of the marks of the new birth you have all the marks of an unregenerate person.

Romans 8:6 says, “For to be carnally minded is death …” But most modern Christians would quickly identify themselves as carnal. I heard of a meeting where the preacher made the congregation repeat after him three times, “I am carnal!” But Romans 8:6, only a few verses away from Romans 7:14, clearly compares the carnal man with the spiritual man and says one will live and one will die. One is the enemy of God and one is at peace with God. One is lost and one is saved. This is a distinguishing mark between the truly converted and the false professor.

We must come to the conclusion that your position on Romans 7 is determined by what you think salvation is. If you think that salvation is only about going to heaven when you die then you won’t be too concerned about victory over sin. This is the false gospel that most shallow-minded, Bible-illiterate people hear from college-educated, hireling preachers in these last days. It is popular because it makes the way very broad and makes room for everybody and anybody, no matter how they live or what kind of person they are. However, for those who read the Bible, believe it, and are converted to Christ, Romans 7 will describe only their past experience BEFORE they were reconciled to God. This is what Paul was describing as he wrote this chapter. Peter and Paul both warned us that people would twist Paul’s words to make excuse for their sin, and they used strong language to condemn them.

And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. - Rom. 3:8

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. - 2 Pet. 3:16

Back to top                                    Back to Provoking Thoughts